The Resident Evil 4 Remake has been officially announced. Here’s what it needs to get right if it’s to succeed.
Hold on to your awkwardly placed Tyrant trilbies, the Resident Evil 4 Remake is real and it’s coming in early 2023. While this is incredibly exciting news, we’ve been here a couple of times before – and this time, there’s much more at stake.
While Resident Evil 1, 2, and 3 were all celebrated in their own way, RE4 is a different mutated beast entirely. The game revolutionized the third-person shooter, took the series to new heights, and to this day, is still regarded as one of the finest games ever made.
Remaking it is a risky business, and if Capcom doesn’t learn from past mistakes, could end up with a very disgruntled fanbase. There’s even a legion of RE4 fans who believe there is no need for a remake, and it’s not hard to see where they’re coming from. If Capcom is to succeed, it needs to reflect not only on RE4, but what worked well in prior remakes.
Previous Resident Evil Remakes
The remake of the original Resident Evil is a highly celebrated game and one that has been ported to nearly every platform since it released on the GameCube in 2002. Then the Resident Evil 2 Remake came along in 2019 and blew fans and critics away. The game not only honored the original in so many ways, but it also modernized the experience and set the standard for remakes going forward.
A year later, Capcom released a remake of Resident Evil 3, but despite the game performing well and being of high quality, it was clear that the same amount of care and attention to detail that went into the RE2 Remake wasn’t present in RE3.
In all fairness, Resident Evil 3 was always the runt of the litter when it comes to the original trilogy. It was a game made in haste for the PS1 while Capcom’s A team developed Code Veronica for the Dreamcast.
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It is still regarded as a classic, but its remake was far too short and cut huge chunks of content from the original game, such as the Clocktower area and Mercenaries mode. Stalker enemy, Nemesis, mostly only showed up for scripted boss encounters too, rather than being an amped-up version of RE2’s stalker, the Mr. X Tyrant.
This was seen by most fans as a wasted opportunity, as the stalking mechanic in the Resident Evil 2 Remake was what made the game so memorable. If Capcom rushes the RE4 Remake or cuts certain iconic areas, fans of the original would find this unforgivable.
On the right track
The good news is Capcom is on a roll after the success of Resident Evil Village, itself a virtual love letter to RE4. Resi’s more grounded, serious, and horror-focused approach since RE7: Biohazard, has taken the series back to its roots, but let’s not forget that the original RE4 was the game that steered it away from survival horror in the first place.
Although, by RE6, the series had started to resemble Michael Bay movies, rather than a visceral horror series. Resident Evil Village, like the original RE4, got the balance between action and horror just right, so we’re confident that the Resident Evil 4 Remake can too.
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From watching the trailer, the RE4 remake is clearly set in Capcom’s current reimagining of the RE universe. The Leon we see appears to be a more mature version of the rookie cop we saw in 2019, rather than the wise-cracking super spy from the original RE4.
If the RE4 remake follows a similar formula to the RE2 and 3 remakes, providing a darker and more realistic retelling of the events in Spain, then the game could potentially be even better than the original.
RE4’s silly moments made the game fun, but they alienated purists at the time, and they really haven’t aged well. The remake is an opportunity to make this the most frightening walk in the woods you’ve ever been on.
Less is more
To achieve this, Capcom needs to remember that less is more. For example, one zombie shambling towards you in a dimly lit corridor, while you ran out of bullets and panicked in Resident Evil 1, was far scarier than a horde of them climbing over the church walls in RE6 – only to be mowed down by your practically infinite ammo filled assault rifle.
While the game shouldn’t strip out the action and replace it entirely with survival horror – that wouldn’t be true to the original – it should raise the stakes. The sickle and scythe-wielding Ganado enemies could be terrifying in 4K. So, making them nothing but cannon fodder will cheapen the experience and their level of threat.
The RE4 Remake could also correct RE3’s Nemesis mistake and bring back stalkers in a big way. The trailer already shows village chief Biotores Mendez wearing a hat that’s remarkably similar to Mr. X’s trilby from the RE2 Remake. Could this be a sign he’ll follow in the footsteps of other classic RE stalkers?
Resident Evil 4’s most frightening and dangerous enemy by far was the horrific Doctor Salvador. A chainsaw-wielding maniac with a potato sack on his head. The revving of a chainsaw is enough to send chills down the spine of any Resident Evil fan and the RE4 Remake could turn the mad doctor into the best RE stalker yet.
If you go down to the woods today
Capcom is walking a tightrope with the Resident Evil 4 remake. Not only do they need to honor and respect every inch of the original, but they also need to make it a new and fresh experience – otherwise, what’s the point of even doing it when the original is still so well thought of?
It seems that every Resident Evil game is a battle between balancing action with survival horror, but Capcom has won this battle before. They absolutely must do so again.